By: Jonathan Pabico, Peak Associate
Fans of Queen, are you ready to rock? If you are, then Bohemian Rhapsody will definitely reawaken your inner rocker. The film not only offers an enthralling narrative but also beautifully balances Freddie Mercury’s emotional strife with his band’s humble beginnings and majestic triumphs.
Rami Malek (best known for Mr. Robot) delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Queen’s legendary powerhouse, Freddie Mercury. Malek perfectly portrays Mercury as a fierce rocker and charismatic misfit. His performance is enriched by Mercury’s iconic concert outfits, bold mannerisms onstage, and witty banter.
However, Malek shapes him as a lonely individual, striving to know his place in the world while coming to terms with his identity as a musician. Combined with gloomy close-ups and distant camera shots, Malek’s performance also evokes Mercury’s humanizing pain, coming from the singer’s personal struggles with AIDS and his strained relationships with friends and loved ones. Although Malek authentically portrays the rock star’s musical genius, the film does not accurately explore Mercury’s sexuality due to limited or obscure details about how much it affected his private life.
X-Men director Bryan Singer impressively retells the tale of Queen’s larger-than-life music career. With Anthony McCarten’s energetic script, Singer uses the band’s upbeat social dynamics to perfectly convey their relatable bond as a family. He uses the film’s underground music culture as a stunning backdrop. Moreover, Singer uses Queen’s recording sessions as chaotic set pieces imbued with satisfying tensions and volatile fun, reflecting the band’s impassioned drive to not only discover themselves but also subvert the musical conventions of their era.
However, the film’s crown jewel is Queen’s legendary performance during the 1985 Live Aid concert. Immense wide shots of the event’s crowds, balanced with looming camera angles and fluid close-ups of Mercury and his bandmates, provide glorious nostalgia for any hardcore Queen fan.
While the film excels in many avenues, the story has events and secondary characters that, unless you have an extensive knowledge of Queen’s history, will be unfamiliar to the average moviegoer. Still, this biopic is accessible for any classic-rock fan who simply wants to have fun and tap their feet to the movie’s rollicking soundtrack. Aside from this aspect, a set of scenes intended to give the film closure end up ruining any sense of anticipation for the film’s ending. These scenes seem more like abrupt benchmarks to meet before the movie comes full circle, but they deliver enough heartfelt tones to ground the narrative.
Overall, Bryan Singer creates an exuberant biopic about the complex relationships between Queen’s band members and their historical performances. With Rami Malek’s powerful portrayal which honours Mercury’s legacy, Singer crafts an unforgettable story that forever reinforces Queen as one of the most famous rock bands in rock ’n roll history.